National Labor Relations Board

Earlier this month the United States Supreme Court decided to hear three cases which will resolve the split between various Courts of Appeals (discussed in our prior post here) as to whether individual arbitration agreements barring class arbitration actions in employment-related matters are enforceable. While the Court held in 2011 that the Federal Arbitration Act would allow companies to avoid consumer class actions by insisting upon individual arbitrations in their contracts, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, workers have contended that employment contracts are different. They have successfully argued that the National Labor Relations Act prohibits class waivers since it would impinge upon worker’s rights to engage in “concerted activities”. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals accepted such an argument in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis (discussed in our prior post here), and the Ninth Circuit accepted such an argument in Ernst and Young v. Morris. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the same argument in National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil U.S.A.
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On January 25, 2013, the D.C. Circuit Court invalidated President Obama’s three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.   The decision in Canning v. NLRB not only calls into question the “recess appointment” power of the President, but could paralyze the NLRB by putting hundreds of decisions in jeopardy.

Presidents have made so-called recess appointments

On September 28, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued its decision in Karl Knauz Motors, Inc., 358 NLRB No. 164 (2012).  The NLRB affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s findings that a car dealership did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”) after it terminated a salesperson for his posts on Facebook.   

The acting general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Lafe Solomon, has addressed a number of workplace topics, including social media policies, at-will employment statements and class action waivers in arbitration agreements. In addition, a new NLRB webpage describes the rights of employees, even if they are not in a union. Both of